- Religion and Philosophy»
- Atheism & Agnosticism
Why Personal Beliefs are Irrelevant
Because I Can Think For Myself
Why Don't You Just Believe Me?
Don’t you just hate it when someone you know goes on and on about how great a particular music group is, simply because they got to go to their concert, go backstage, and meet them in person? I mean, you know this group sucks. They have horrible music. Maybe they are the flavor of the week, or maybe they are just fading out, but this person you know claims that they are the absolute best. Is it because she really thinks they are the best, or because of the personal experience she had in meeting them? Had she never gone to their concert or gone backstage, would she still be making such a fuss?
The point is, however, that you hate this group, and you are sick and tired of hearing this person praise them. Does the fact that you hate the band, or the fact that your friend adores them, bear any impact at all on how good the band really is? What would a neutral third party turn to in order to ascertain whether or not this band is really bad or good? Hmm…how about their record sales? Would that be a good indicator?
YES. In fact, that would be a RELIABLE indicator based on hard facts. So, why couldn’t the third party just talk to you, or to your friend, and make a decision based on that? Well, that’s the tricky part, see, because how could this third party make a decision based on personal beliefs and opinions? They are as numerous as there are people in the world and just because a majority might be in somewhat of an agreement, it might not support the facts.
But MY Experience Was Real
Of course it was--to you. To someone else, it might seem a bit deluded. But let’s go back to our first questions. What if your friend ONLY thinks the music group is the best BECAUSE she had a personal experience with them? Does that make her opinion any less valid? I mean, she can attest to the good time she had in attending their concert, listening to their music, and meeting them backstage, so why is it even an issue?
I gather that if every single person that attended that same concert had the exact same experience as she did, and came away feeling exactly the same as your friend, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. The problem is that not everyone had fun. Not everyone that attended liked the band. Some just went for the heck of it. Others took a girl in hopes of getting laid later. And many did not even make it backstage. So everyone came away with a different personal experience. If a third party were to poll every person that attended the concert, he might have a good idea of what the band is all about, what kind of music they play, and maybe even if they are any good at a live performance, but none of that might match up with his personal likes. And the fact that his personal likes might not include this band still bears no importance on whether or not they can sell records.
The Value Placed on Belief
We have been taught to value beliefs from a very early age. To believe in something is great! So personal beliefs have, of course, been given the supreme status. Why wold anyone doubt them? On the other hand, not having beliefs, or not being swayed by them, is seen as a flaw. How could anyone not read a miraculous tale like that of the Virgen de Guadalupe and NOT be moved by it? How can anyone not just BELIEVE that god exists? It says so in the bible. Beliefs are a form of currency that the spiritual world deals in, and not having your own, means you are left out.
You Can't Argue With Facts
The point is personal beliefs and experiences are irrelevant. This story could go on and on and on and no one would ever be able to determine whether or not this band is any good. One would have to see, or hear for themselves, but even then, that would only serve in determining whether or not THEY like the band, and not if the band is really good.
I often find myself having to explain this concept to many people in regards to things such as miracles or beliefs in gods, religions, or any other such nonsense, but not because their beliefs are nonsense—because they are using their beliefs as proof of why a concept is real—and THAT is utter nonsense. The reason why personal beliefs, experiences, and interpretations of ideas, figures and events, are irrelevant is because there is no one belief, experience, or interpretation that can be used as a measuring stick for all other beliefs, experiences, and interpretations. The only things that are concrete are facts and evidence.
Don’t get me wrong, it is very possible to form opinions and personal ideas on a topic, but can you use those as a standard for all other’s opinions or ideas? Even more important, can you use your personal beliefs to dispute hard facts and evidence? The answer is quite simply, no. It is a hard truth for some, but it is the truth, and denying it won’t make it any less true.